I recall when we had joined Jawaharlal Nehru University as freshers” in 1978, Sitaram Yechury was the outgoing JNU Students’ Union President . He had campaigned vigorously for Dadheech, the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) candidate for the president’s post. That year the Free Thinkers’ candidate, David Thomas, who was our senior in the Centre for Historical Studies, had won the election, of course, with the over-riding support of the majority of the freshers.
Any talk about of the freshers and the historical victory of the Free Thinkers in the 1978 JNUSU election would be incomplete without revealing the modus operandi of the SFI and All India Students’ Federation (AISF), the students’ wings of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Communist Party of India, vis-à-vis the new entrants to JNU. One recalls how the cadres (senior students) belonging to both the students’ wings of the two main Leftist parties followed the time-tested path of flocking around the new students. After befriending and winning their confidence, these students hosted a large number of new students temporarily in their hostel rooms; they acted as guides and took them around the library, canteen and different administrative blocks and Centres scattered around the old campus. After that they followed the strategy of bombarding the freshers with Leftist jargons and theory to convince them about the inevitability of class war, and the uprising by the proletariat against the exploiting ruling elite, the capitalists and the bourgeoisie.
Most from my batch of freshers were made of sterner stuff and could not be brainwashed by the Leftists, who were nicknamed by us as the ‘Commies’. We were free thinkers in the true sense. We believed in rational thought, debate and free discussion. We were not the ones to allow the Communist dogma to prevail over rationality and liberal thought. While we refused to allow ourselves to be brainwashed, what coincided with the JNUSU election in 1978 was a big protest mounted by a group of freshers along with me against the inhuman conditions in which we had been bundled in rotten, fungus infested and incomplete buildings in the New Campus. When none came to our rescue, we were even forced to sit on an indefinite fast after a “gherao” (restricting the movement) of the then Vice Chancellor K R Narayanan in his office. He later rose to become the President of India.
The protest by us turned into a “freshers movement” and this was one of the important factors that could tilt the balance in favour of the Free Thinkers’ candidate who defeated his nearest rival of the SFI with a convincing margin.
Ours was an entirely a different time. After us, the leftists obviously have been successful in carrying forward their strategy of brainwashing the new comers to JNU. In the meanwhile too much water has flown in the Ganga River and what have we – first there was the much talked about celebration by a section of those in JNU when in a Maoist attack 76 CRPF men were killed near Chintalnar village in Dantewada district in 2010 and now we have a rally of anti-national elements shouting slogans against India and in support of “Azadi” in Kashmir. It is an Irony, they are challenging the sovereignty and integrity of India by talking of destroying the county by using all their lung power energized by food and shelter highly subsidized by the people of India.
Over the years, JNU seems to have become a haven for terrorists or those who support them. One doesn’t know for how long we have permitted this. The guilty should be identified and heads should roll. When I was a student there (78-80), I recall how many IAS aspirants stayed endlessly as a guest in JNU hostels, where they enjoyed highly subsidised boarding and lodging facility as they mingled and became one with students who had drowned themselves in academic pursuit. One case in point is that of one of three brothers from Rajasthan who cracked the Civil Services exam simultaneously. One of them I know was an illegal occupant in the Sutlej hostel and is now posted at the secretary level in government of India. Matters have deteriorated drastically since then. A thorough investigation is needed to go to the depth of truth and find out whether or not terrorists have been taking shelter in JNU. An investigation into this should begin immediately. On the pretext of free speech, one can allow criticism of an elected government and it’s functionaries. Even people have the right to discuss gaps or flaws in the Constitution but those who condemn the nation or talk of splitting the country should always be tried for sedition. Even those who want to allow such elements to have their way by advocating the right to freedom of speech and expression cannot be pardoned as they are acting either as agents of those behind a diabolic plan or are too naive to understand the fallout of their folly.
If the political opponents of the ruling BJP have decided to use the JNU campus as a fertile ground to take on the ruling BJP on the issue of nationalism by fanning revolt against the nation, I am compelled to draw an analogy between what is happening in this national university and the US policy in Afghanistan and Middle-East, where for short-term gains the US has played with fire. By joining a protest rally in JNU to express solidarity with the Student leaders, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has also played with fire. If not doused in time, the fire that has erupted on the issue of the anti-India protest and slogans raised on the JNU campus to declare terrorist Afzal Guru a martyr could soon turn into an inferno…..
In a related development, JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar, arrested in the sedition case linked with the JNU incident, today (19 February, 2016) moved the Delhi High Court seeking bail after the Supreme Court declined to entertain his bail plea saying it will become a precedent available to all the accused in the country, if it is entertained.
Meanwhile, Lawyers in Delhi and Jammu today took out protest march against traitors and those indulging in anti-national activities.